Monday, December 10, 2012

Ashoka - The Search for India's Lost Emperor

[Author: Charles Allen; Publisher:Little Brown; Hardback482 pages ]

Ashoka , also known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled over almost the entire  Indian subcontinent from  269 BCE to 232 BCE. He was a pioneer in forging India into a single nation welfare state, espousing the concept of non-violence and the spread of Buddhism in Asia.
Every Indian knows about his symbols - the Ashok Chakra which adorns the Indian national flag and the Lion Capital which is India's national emblem.
It  came as a surprise to me as I read this book tha, Ashoka was all but forgotten for  nearly two thousand years after his reign ended.
From the late 18th century onwards monuments and rock edicts of Ashokan era began to be discovered. 

In this fascinating book, the author narrates the story  of reconstruction of India's lost Ashokan history through diligent and painstaking  efforts of British archaeologists, Oriental scholars and their associates
It is  profusely illustrated with photographs  and sketches dating back to the timewhen these works were in progress.
An account of the life and times of Ashoka put together based on the evidences uncovered through archaeological findings and research is given at the end of the book.

There is also an appendix consisting of translated versions of the Ashoka's edicts inscribed on  pillars and rocks which shows how unique and far-sighted his views and principles were.

A very well written book, which could have been made even better if the author had provided a timeline chart of all the discoveries made. There are far too many mentions of names ,places and artifacts which made it difficult for me recall the previously discussed material while I was reading this book.

A must read for all history lovers ! 

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